The rain can make the winters seem awfully long in Portland, so I was looking for signs of spring on Fremont Street when I visited Jim & Patty’s Coffee, a café in Northeast Portland.
The baristas were having plenty of fun the day I was there. When I told the barista at the counter that it was my first time to the café, he told the other barista to make sure to do a good job with my espresso. He didn’t want any bad first impressions.
I found a place by the front window where I could watch the rain fall and hope for the clouds to break. To my delight, they did, at least for a little while.
Jim & Patty’s is named after Jim and Patty Roberts, the same people who started Coffee People, a local café chain that provided caffeine and community to Portlanders for many years before they sold the company in the 1990s. I moved to Portland in 2008, so I never visited one, but various Portlanders have told me that it was their favorite place to go for coffee.
The espresso on grind at the café was the Jim and Patty’s Blend, roasted by Stumptown. The barista told me it was a mixture of Indonesian and Lain American coffees, and it should taste similar to Hair Bender.
As he handed me the double shot, the barista told me that drinking the espresso “is a good way to tell if a café is any good, especially if it’s your first time visiting.”
I could not agree more.
My first sip of the crema was very smooth. A couple sips in, I got the tanginess that I would expect from something described to be like Hair Bender. Overall, the espresso was not quite as rich as Stumptown’s signature blend.
The coffee is solid at Jim & Patty’s, but the food is the star. The café is as much a breakfast place as anything, and the smell of food is stronger than the smell of coffee. Most of the people in the café were eating pastries or other breakfast treats. I decided to join them.
The café bills itself as the “center for sour cream coffeecake,” so I ordered a piece of the “Naughty Supermodel Marionberry” coffeecake. Curious, I asked the barista who it was named after.
He laughed. “I don’t know. That’s a good question.”
I’m not sure whether he didn’t know or just didn’t want to say, but if anyone knows and would like to inform us, please do (or feel free to nominate someone).
The coffeecake was moist and sweet, with a crispy cinnamon and sugar topping that I had a hard time keeping on my plate. It disappeared quickly.
If the Naughty Supermodel does not sound like your style, there are several other tasty-looking coffeecakes on the menu. There’s the “Give PEACH a Chance”, the “Be Bop A Rebop Rhubarb” and the “Young, Gifted and Blue Blueberry” coffeecakes. If you are in an adventurous mood, you might try the “Inappropriate Chocolate Banana” coffeecake. Sounds a bit dangerous.
Jim & Patty’s has savory foods too. The breakfast biscuits looked tantalizing and so did the Pig Newtons—sausage and cheddar cheese wrapped in a pastry shell (can you tell I was hungry when I was there?).
Maintaining the traditions of one of Portland’s favorite cafés, Jim and Patty’s has plenty to keep you coming back. If you are looking for a place that is geared toward coffee purists and only smells like coffee, you probably ought to go elsewhere. However, if you don’t mind the smell of fresh pastries and other baked goods, you should be able to find something you like. You can sit in front of the big glass windows and enjoy the friendly atmosphere, as well as the fact that winter will not last forever. Yes, spring is coming.
Address: 4951 NE Fremont, Portland, OR 97213 (map)
Hours: Monday-Saturday 6am-4pm
Coffee: Jim and Patty’s (roasted by Stumptown)
Free Wi-Fi? Yes
What do you recommend? The friendly atmosphere and coffee cake